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Court rules for San Diego State in suit by Christian groups

A federal appeals court has upheld San Diego State's nondiscrimination policy for student groups, ruling in favor of the university in a lawsuit brought by two Christian organizations.

The groups, which restrict their membership to students who are Christian, argued that the university had violated their 1st Amendment rights by denying them official recognition. 

Alpha Delta Chi, a Christian sorority, and Alpha Gamma Omega, a Christian fraternity, sued school officials in 2005 after the university refused them official status.

The university argued that such groups violated a policy that forbids student organizations from limiting their membership because of race, religion, gender or sexual orientation. Official status means student groups have access to university facilities and support, such as rooms for meetings and the use of school logos.

In its ruling Tuesday, the panel from the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals found that the university's policy did not violate the students’ constitutional rights.

Yet the jurists expressed concern that the university may have enforced the policy unevenly, by possibly granting official status to groups that made similar restrictions on membership.

The appeals court sent the case back to a federal district court to evaluate how fairly the university applied its policy.


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